OECS leaders endorse policies, set date for Regional Parliamentary Assembly

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, FEBRUARY 12TH2012 (CUOPM) – Heads of Government of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have endorsed a common tourism policy, establishment of a public and private sector consultative process and set a date for the operationalization of the OECS Regional Parliamentary Assembly.

Prime Minister of Grenada, Hon. Tillman Thomas; Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas; Premier of the British Virgin Islands, the Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith; Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves; Prime Minister of St. Lucia. Dr. the Hon. Kenny Anthony; Secretary-General of the OECS, Her Excellency Dr. Len Ishmael; Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Dr. the Hon. Baldwin Spencer; Prime Minister of Dominica, the Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit and the unidentified Representative of Anguilla at the 54th Meeting of the OECS Authority in St. Lucia. (OECS photo)

According to the communiqué, issued at the end of the recent 54th Meeting of the OECS Authority, the leaders agreed on the issue of the Growth and Development Strategy for the OECS, the sub-regional leaders urged its speedy completion within a broad-based consultative framework in view of the critical economic challenges being faced by the region within the context of the uncertain and unstable global environment.

Heads endorsed the OECS Common Tourism Policy as a guide to collective action geared to the development of Tourism in the OECS Economic Union as well as the establishment of a regional consultative process in the OECS involving the public and private sector to articulate and drive an agenda focused on recovery, growth and development for the region over the next two to five years.

Heads directed that this process should entail consideration of detailed proposals and approaches for a Consultative Forum for public/private sector engagement and collaboration to help consolidate gains from the OECS Economic Union. They further directed that this task should be completed by the 56th Meeting of the Authority in November 2012.

Heads received a progress report on the enactment of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre Establishing the OECS Economic Union (EU) into the domestic law of Member States and the attendant challenges faced by some Members in this regard.

“OECS Heads of Government also received an update on the status of implementation of the regime for free movement of citizens. The meeting considered examples of best practices and lessons-learned as useful guides towards full implementation of the OECS EU. The OECS Heads of Government urged all Member States to complete the procedures necessary for enactment of the Revised Treaty Bill, accession to the Revised Treaty and fulfillment of the ratification process,” said the communiqué.

The Meeting which was chaired by St. Lucia’s new Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Kenny Anthony considered and approved a proposal for a study to explore all possible modalities for receiving citizens’ grievances incurred in the implementation of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre, including existing mechanisms such as the Office of Ombudsman.

They noted that while the establishment of such a mechanism was not a requirement of the Revised Treaty it could provide a means for OECS citizens to seek redress outside of the existing structures at the national level, including the court system with its characteristic rigidities.

Heads considered a proposal for operationalisation of the OECS Regional Parliamentary Assembly, and mandated that further work be done with a view to inauguration of the Assembly by June 18, 2012.

Eastern Caribbean leaders met with their Commissioners from Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to discuss the role of the Commission within the governance structure.

They recognized that this was a new body which had the potential to become a model for other integration movements. They agreed to examine all the national and regional mechanisms that would ensure the efficient functioning of this body. The Commission was mandated to ensure that the other governance structures became operational according to the deadlines set by the Authority.

Heads of Government reiterated that the free movement of persons was vital to the success of the OECS Economic Union and all agreed that it was necessary to put in place the mechanisms for hassle free travel.

“They stressed the need for more training programmes for immigration and customs offices. The Heads stressed that the economic union was put in place for the benefit of all OECS citizens and that the Governments would remain committed to that goal,” said the communiqué.

The OECS Heads of Government considered an approach towards good governance of the OECS maritime space and the Authority agreed on the establishment of an OECS-wide approach to commence work on the development of a regional integrated ocean governance framework, inclusive of the development of a draft ocean policy framework and action.

Member States agreed to the establishment of an OECS Maritime Governance team and to identify and mandate a lead national agency to participate in this process, working closely with the OECS Secretariat in leading and coordinating activities at the regional level.

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